Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo: The Aftermath

I ended up taking two days off of cooking once the month-long challenge was over. Beyond just being tired (not just from the blogging), my creative juices seemed pretty drained. But I thought it’d be fun to take a minute to reflect on the month.

Things I’d make again that I hadn’t made before:

Something that needs work:

Posts I am surprised no one commented on, because I was ridiculously proud of them, or at least of the effort that went into producing them:

Also, fresh tortilla porn! Apparently everyone likes that. Tortillas for everyone! They are delicious, I get it.

Anyway, see you next year, fellow veg-heads.

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 30: Fusion Challenge!

Well, it’s the last day of MoFo. This is my second year participating and it’s been a challenge and a thrill. Thank you to the organizers for the themes and keeping it all together! Thank you to new vegan pals (hooray for Twitter), thank you to friends and family for commenting on Facebook, and thank you to anyone who’s been reading.

The final theme is wide open: fusion. I wanted to make something I hadn’t made before, so I thought about Indian-style kofta with… something. First I considered treating it like a meatball and serving it over spaghetti, but after careful consideration (or a distracted conversation in the car), my boyfriend and I agreed that didn’t actually sound appealing.

Kofta and Thai curry, on the other hand? That might work. I picked up an interesting herb at the market this week – lime basil – and it inspired me. Koftas could simmer in red coconut curry and be eaten with rice and a side salad, all incorporating Indian and Thai flavors/techniques.

The result was…not bad. Different. Some things worked, others less so, but a worthy try.

First I made the koftas, basically this recipe, but apparently I didn’t have any garbanzo flour (I swore I did!), so I made it with whole garbanzo beans and wheat flour so it’d hold together. The texture is probably a little off as a result.

Then I set up a simple pilaf: brown rice in the rice cooker, with a coconut oil-happy mix of cumin seeds, fried shallot, and one cinnamon stick tossed in.

Next, the curry, which was thick with coconut milk and pureed squash:

  • Red curry paste + coconut oil bubble together
  • Light coconut milk swirled in, brought to a simmer
  • Half a yellow onion and a very small winter squash cook in the sauce
  • Puree in a blender, then bring back to a simmer (it gets very thick)
  • Add a chopped tomato and some greens, if you like (I like)
  • While the rice cooks, add some already-cooked kofta
  • A few minutes before you’re ready to eat, at lemon juice and herbs (cilantro and lime basil, in this case)

Finally, a fresh salad to tie things together: finely diced cucumber, quartered tomato, and a bit of yellow bell pepper, gently sprinkled with lemon juice, garam masala, and a pinch of salt, then served with sprigs of cilantro.

Oh, and toasted cashews. A necessity.

I found these elements didn’t work well on their own, but eaten together, kind of worked. Maybe I’ll have to keep working on it. They’re not all winners, but the fun of MoFo is in the trying.

Have a lovely October, everyone. I’ll try to keep myself occupied here (albeit probably a bit less frequently with the actual posting), but may try to create a challenge of my own to keep things interesting.

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 29: What would you bring on a vegan road trip?

A few months ago my mom came down to California and we took a three-day trip up to Mendocino in my 1999 Honda Civic. It’s about a 3 ½-hour drive from my house, definitely long enough to warrant car snacks, much like what I’m writing about here.

It was also the last road trip I’ll take in the car–I gave it back to my mom (it was her old car, anyway, I was just using it for the last 10 years or so) because my boyfriend and I decided to share one car–a Kia Soul EV (on a three-year lease). We love driving an electric car, but it doesn’t lend itself to road trips. You’d definitely need good snacks, because it takes at least two hours to get a charge that takes you 80 miles, so that’s a lot of sitting around. To drive to Mendocino, we’d need to do that at least twice, and that’s heavily dependent on finding charging stations where we need them, that aren’t otherwise in use or broken, along the way.

Anyway, here’s what I aim for when packing road snacks: easily accessible, non-messy options are key. You need a sweet, you need a protein, you need a crunchy, you need a fresh, you need a drink.

Drink is usually just water. Boring, but important. Maybe the car is hot and you don’t have a big cooler.


  • Peanut butter or trail mix cookies (homemade or store-bought)

I made these nice oatmeal raisin cookies (which I know is a divisive cookie at best, but I like ‘em)

  • Carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or your other favorite crudites (chips or pieces of pita bread would also do, but let’s pretend we are healthy)
  • Hummus or another bean dip

Freshly blended hummus, green from parsley, with carrot wedges and cherry tomatoes, ready to skedaddle

  • Your favorite nuts or protein bars (I’d bring almonds and chocolate-peanut butter Pure bars)

For a really long trip, you better have a bigger cooler, and then you can bring more veggies and things to make a quick meal, like tortillas or lavash bread, sliced cherry tomatoes, spinach, salad greens, cooked tempeh strips, etc. A prepared lentil/bean salad will also do–anything you can eat with a spoon and then wipe off and stow. A container of iced tea might be welcome for a little caffeine boost. Nothing spillable, nothing that will melt (that means you, chocolate), nothing that will wilt and spoil in less-than-pristine cooling conditions.

If we go on a road trip any time soon, it’ll probably be to Yosemite or nearby. Not a terribly long drive, but definitely the kind of trip where these snacks will be welcome. Just gotta figure out which car to take…

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 28: AN ACTUAL TACO!!

My back is getting better, so I managed to get back into the kitchen after work tonight I didn’t want to leave such a good theme hanging without making something!

Since my my mom gifted me with a cast iron tortilla press, I’ve made fresh corn tortillas many times. It makes all the difference. I’m terrible with yeast breads, but tortillas? Pssshh. Easy. Only a little bit time-consuming, heh. It has to mix, then sit, then press each one, then cook each one.

Filling these flaky, warm, sweet, and toasty blank canvases? That’s the fun part.

First I made some tofu. I don’t usually do tofu on my tacos, but I had an idea. (Also, I should really look at how many of my posts this month featured tofu–I feel like I used it more than I normally do, but eh…) I did my normal baked tofu prep, but with a twist: red wine vinegar, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and thinly sliced green bell pepper and red onion all went into the baking dish with the tofu on top (with a little marinade dredged on both sides), then baked for 20 minutes on each side at 400 degrees. I use my toaster oven because it doesn’t heat up the whole room, plus it bakes on a timer so it’s a total no-brainer. THe veggies roasted up nicely and the tofu has a lot of flavor.

Then I needed a sauce–getting back to basics, hello blog name!–but I also really wanted to use up some collard greens and mushrooms. Plus I picked up some nice saucing tomatoes, so I decided to make a cooked salsa with veggies in it: diced onion, sliced mushrooms, minced red jalapeno, lots of tomato, chopped collards, cook cook cook, then add several cloves of crushed/microplaned garlic (I want that PUNCH), followed by fresh cilantro and lime juice. It isn’t runny, but it is saucy and filling and flavorful.

So for the taco we’ve got sliced baked tofu, some roasted onion and pepper slices, fresh-cooked tomato salsa with mushrooms and greens, and some shredded lettuce and more cilantro to finish. Yum yum yum. Flavorful and good texture without being super messy–wow.

NOTE: I wanted avocado, but when I inspected them, they did not appear to be ripe. However, when my boyfriend appeared, he decided one of them was. But I had already eaten by then. HARUMPH.

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

Homemade tortillas make ANY taco at least twice as good

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 28: Tacos vs. burritos

Here’s the thing: I was going to get a delicious burrito at my farmers’ market and then go home and make tacos and do a whole compare and contrast. But then my lower back (really, glutes) decided it was a great time to have a tantrum so doing much of anything is painful. (I even had a super intense massage, which made 95% of the pain disappear, and I was doing a happy dance until turning the car into the driveway triggered another spasm.)

Tl;dr: I didn’t make anything today. But let’s discuss the pros and cons of each.


  • Burritos: easy to pack and bring almost anywhere with minimal utensils and cleanup
  • Tacos: open-faced nature requires structured carrying, napkins, and sometimes utensils
  • Point: Burritos


  • Burritos: you can find a vegan burrito at at least a half dozen national chains, in airports, at farmers’ markets, as frozen food, at grocery store deli counters…
  • Tacos: many taco vendors offer only meat fillings
  • Point: Burritos


  • Burritos: while the fillings can be anything, the presentation and often the taste are very much the same
  • Tacos: its small size means experimenting with different combinations of veggies, salsas, proteins, etc. is incredibly easy, and often beautiful
  • Point: Tacos


  • Burritos: extra-large tortillas are harder to find in stores, and rolling an overstuffed burrito requires care and skill, usually perfected with experience
  • Tacos: any small tortilla will do–even homemade tortillas come together in a snap–and toppings can be made or bought in any quantity or quality, making it a quick dinner or an easy party buffet
  • Point: Tacos


  • Burritos: filling and easy to make into complete meal with beans, whole grains, avocado, salsa, and lots of veggies
  • Tacos: easier to control portion size and have with more greens or beans on the side than might be practical in a burrito
  • Point: Tie

There are no losers here, only winners. Tacos are what I’m more likely to make at home or at a family gathering; burritos are a go-to quick meal. Isn’t the world a better place with both?

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 27: Favorite herb or spice? Garlic!

It’s almost too obvious, but where would we be without garlic? What else is so versatile, so universal, so DELICIOUS? There are so many ways to use it.

You can use it roasted or grilled, where each clove slips out of its husk with little effort and tastes sweet and smoky as it does pungent.

Or have it raw and minced to punch up your dressing. It’s in my go-to tahini sauce, and usually thrown into the blender when making a fresh herb-based dressing.

Crispy and fried in an Asian soup or salad (Burmese tea leaf salad? Vietnamese pho?), often with its BFF, shallots.

Young “green” garlic and garlic scapes let you use the whole plant and offer a different texture and milder flavor. Something to look forward to every spring.

Not to mention myriad other ways, just crushing, chopping, or slicing the cloves and cooking with vegetables or adding to sauces and soups.

When I run out of garlic, I panic.  My favorite is a hard-necked variety with purple skin that comes off its large cloves super easy. It’s not always available in the market, but I stock up when I find it. I love hearing people at the farmers’ market ask what to do with X vegetable and being told, almost invariably, “Well, I saute it with some garlic…”

There are very few things garlic cannot improve. (Chocolate is one. Berries are another. Otherwise…)

Nearly every other spice or herb I could name that I love is made even better by garlic. Parsley? Yeah. Cilantro? Duh. (Parsley AND cilantro with garlic? Mmmmm.) Basil? Hello, pesto. Cumin and coriander? Add ginger and garlic and you’ve got a curry. Red pepper flakes? Critical.

Garlic: can’t live without it. End of story.

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 26, part deux: breakfast potato … Nachos? Kinda? With kale, purple potato slices, black beans, and cashew sauce. Using up stuff in my fridge. Still in the spirit of the challenge, though tomatoes will be hard to find in the apocalypse.

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 26: It’s snowing–what can you make with what you’ve got?

If it’s snowing that much in San Jose, the end times have arrived. So I’m making dessert.

Ever since I wrote about Vegan With a Vengeance being my sentimental favorite cookbook, I’ve had a craving for the boozy chocolate pudding cake, which of late I’ve made with bourbon, but I am fresh out. What I do have is Grand Marnier. Orange and chocolate is a valid combo, and I’m not going out in this apocalypse–what the hell, right?

It’s hot, it’s gooey, it might get you a little buzzed. What better way to spend a snowed-in evening?

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 25: Favorite cuisine — Indian

The world is full of pretty amazing food, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to visit some of those places and eat some of that food. I’ve learned how to make curry from scratch in Thailand and gorged on falafel on Christmas in Paris. Even closer to home, I can explore one dinner at a time: Ethiopian, Korean, Persian, Mexican, Italian…hell, even American, which is pretty all-encompassing. It only makes me hungry for more.

One cuisine I seldom get bored of is Indian. You could eat something different every damn day and still not try everything, and that’s just the veg options. Vegetables can be prepared and combined in endless combination with all those spices. There’s rice, grains, lentils, and beans that become dosas, dhokla, chapati, stuffed parathas, dals, curries… And then there’s regional specialties, about which I am only marginally informed. (When I went to Bangalore for work, for example, I learned about Parsi cuisine, from Indians of Iranian/Persian descent, and got to eat it twice. It was the bessssst, even though I confused them by being *really* into the “plain” greens dish.)

Anyway. It’s pretty awesome. I don’t cook it at home enough, because even though I know it needn’t be terribly complex, it just fails to pop up when I’m doing my usual last-minute dinner planning. MoFo has been good for something, in that sense. So for this theme, I made a quick Indian dinner, using recipes and a menu from The Indian Vegan Kitchen. I have a few Indian cookbooks, but this is the one I tend to use.

Dinner consisted of quick channa masala (to which I added spinach)…

…peanut-cabbage “salad” (it is cooked; really more of a nice vegetable side than a salad)…

…and rice to serve. Yum.

Bonus: earlier this week I made a nice chaat-inspired sprout salad with sprouted lentils, tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, pepper, onion, and fresh homemade cilantro chutney.

I wanted to make something with chapatis, because I love flatbread, but this really did work better over rice. Plus it’s less work after work. Next time.

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 24: What Zombie Bourdain and Alternate Universe Nuge would cook if they were vegan.

I suppose this is a pretty well-trod territory as far as vegan mockery. Anthony Bourdain’s feelings about vegetarians are oft-repeated in these circles, so he’d have to be a zombie to go veg; Ted Nugent is an infamous hunter/asshole in this universe. None of this is news. So it’s really too obvious… but I couldn’t think of anything else.


My inspiration comes specifically from the old episode of No Reservations in which Bourdain visits Nugent’s Texas ranch, where Ted breeds large game so he can hunt it. In my alternate reality, Nuge has populated his private wilderness with mushrooms and edible wild plants like ramps and greens and spends his days foraging and advocating for native plants. Bourdain … would still have to be a zombie to go veg, but he can still cook, so, let’s use that. In the episode I’m re-imagining, Zombie Bourdain cooks a beautiful risotto with Nuge’s freshly foraged mushrooms and wild arugula.

Also, tofu; look, this is a *meal* in real life and I need to use the tofu up, and what kind of vegan doesn’t eat tofu?. Plus my produce isn’t actually foraged. But pretend, okay?

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 23: Autumn equinox eats!

Although in some ways similar to yesterday’s seasonal produce theme, I tried to take a somewhat different approach with the menu. I wanted to use nuts, pomegranate, and apples – all symbolic in various ways, although not especially to me, and delicious, fun challenges to base a meal around.

Here’s where I landed:

  • mushroom-walnut pate (veganized and tweaked) on good bread
  • white bean soup with roasted apples and sage
  • frisee salad in citrus vinaigrette with pomegranate seeds and hazelnut parmesan

Bread first, right? Yummmm.

Here in California, the early fall weather is near 100 degrees, so I made both the soup and the pate a day ahead and served them chilled.

Soup was very simple, and maybe not for all palates, but a worthy starting point. First I halved and cored two whole gravenstein apples, cut a small red onion into big chunks, and grabbed a few sprigs of thyme and sage, then brushed them with olive oil before giving them a 20-minute bake in the toaster oven. The cooked ingredients went into the blender with two cans of cannellini, water, and salt and pepper. Finally, the resulting puree got a gentle simmer (maybe half an hour?) before it went into the fridge. To serve, I garnished with some fried whole sage leaves and a sprinkling of the hazelnut parmesan I made for the salad.

The salad was a bit more colorful. My dressing consisted of juice of one orange, olive oil, a little bit of mustard, a dash of sweetener (I used coconut nectar), a splash of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, and a little salt and pepper. At the market I picked up a huge head of frisee, which is bitter and pretty and ought to stand up well to a strong, sweet dressing like that, so I pulled out the more tender greens in the middle, washed them, and gave them a quick spin to dry before tossing. Hazelnut parmesan was quick and easy–handful or two of nuts with a generous shake of nooch and let it ride (in the spice grinder, food processor, or blender, you pick your poison)–and ultimately tossed with the salad and extra sprinkled on to serve, along with those beautiful pomegranate jewels.

Fall cooking is possibly the most fun. So many great vegetables are still available, and between MoFo and Thanksgiving prep, I’ve got menus on my mind. This was a quiet weeknight dinner on a hot “what seasons?” kind of night, but maybe for a minute those nuts and seeds meant a little something, even to me.

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 22: Dish using all seasonal produce

This is basically how I cook every day – I shop at the farmers’ market like it’s a religion – but living in Northern California means so much great stuff is in season for a long time, even during this drought. Still, things do come and go. The end of summer tends to have beautiful tomatoes and squash, along with lovely greens, onions, and root vegetables, and all of these are among my favorite things.

To shake things up a little, I wanted to try some new things:

  • Wild fried rice with roasted delicata squash and beets (+ onion, shallot, cilantro, red pepper flakes)
  • Cherry tomato chutney (with shallots and apple cider vinegar) over baked tofu
  • Steamed kale, because greens are a requirement

I’ll have to make the chutney again–it was easy and delicious.

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 21: Desert island foods

“What three endless food supplies would you take if you were going to be stranded on an island? (Imagine your nutritional needs have been met, these are a bonus!)”

Chocolate, pineapple, and nutritional yeast.

Not because I think they GO together – far from it. But they each scratch a proverbial itch.

Chocolate is obvious. I’m sure it’s on 95% of these responses. There are some problems only chocolate can solve, at least temporarily (like the nagging need for chocolate). Bonus points if it has nuts. Extra magic points if it fails to melt in the tropical heat.

Pineapple may well be present on the island, if I’m lucky and this isn’t some horrible Naked & Afraid scenario where the best you can hope for are young coconuts and a machete. At any rate, it’s my favorite fruit, and it’s tasty and refreshing. If I’m stranded with my rabbit friends, they can enjoy it too. Plus if you’re bored you can make a game of hacking it up as pretty as you can, or as violently (i.e. cutting off the eyes). I have and would eat again fresh pineapple from a street vendor in countries where Americans are told never to eat uncooked street food, that’s how much I like it. I brought home two white pineapples from Hawaii once and wished I’d known they would let us bring more. It’s the only non-locally-grown fruit I eat on a semi-regular basis. God, I love pineapple.

Nutritional yeast is just to make the “nutritional needs” a little more interesting. Better than salt? It’s the thing I’m most likely to buy from a local grocery store while traveling. Maybe that is unlikely to apply on a deserted island, but I have only my experience and taste buds to guide me. Nooch goes with everything, therefore, nooch goes with me.

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 20: Veganize an old family recipe

…Or admit #defeat while trying.

My mom is an awesome cook. She can feed armies and menu plan with the best of them. Of course she taught me to cook, too–I’ve been in the kitchen as long as I can remember. (I made up my own, admittedly terrible, cookie recipe in the 1st grade.) Perhaps my mom’s most requested dessert is boccone dolce, a layer cake of sorts with meringue, chocolate, fresh whipped cream, and strawberries. After I went vegan, I thought I’d never get to enjoy it again, but then I heard about the vegan meringue group on Facebook and how people were using canned bean liquid to replace egg whites, calling it aquafaba. Armed with a stand mixer, I had to give it a try.


However, the first time I attempted this didn’t go so well. So I took more precautions this time. And I didn’t use my silpat – if I gotta clean disintegrated sugary goop off of something, it might as well be parchment.

I used The Homemade Vegan Pantry’s recipe this time, which relies on flax egg whites that are frozen, then defrosted and whipped. Xanthan gum is added, presumably for stability. And, miraculously, it WORKED. Not as beautiful and crispy and perfect as my mom’s, but it should do the job.


The whipped cream comes from the same book – almond milk pureed with cashews, then whipped fluffy. Except…not so fucking much. The mixture was chilled overnight (as instructed), but when I put it in the mixer, it broke – the fat separated from the liquid. I tried re-melting and re-freezing, to no avail. So I just re-blended it and let it chill for a bit. A rich, scoopable cream isn’t too terrible, if you don’t know what you meant for it to be, right?

The chocolate is simple melted dark chocolate, which I smoothed out with a little almond milk to ensure it would spread well without crushing the delicate meringues. Of course…things deflated and softened overnight. Not exactly the texture I was going for, but maybe still good. I mean, meringue isn’t supposed to be bendy.

And strawberries? Luckily we have a long summer here in California, and my market is on Sunday (today!), so it’s the final piece of the puzzle. At least that’s hard to fuck up, but I wouldn’t put it past me today.

Oh, strawberries, you still get me, right?

Anyway…after all that disappointment, I decided the best thing I could do was to make it into a taco.

That makes it look tastier than it actually was. The cream had a good flavor, as did the chocolate. The “meringue” was a big nothing. The strawberries failed to stand out (thx, strawberries, next time I’ll just use raspberries, maybe they will appreciate it more) but it was fine.

Oh well. Onwards and upwards. Next few days’ themes are a lot more up my alley, or at least I planned them better, I hope.